Holiday Trolley driver marks 20 years behind the wheel
SANTA BARBARA, Calif.-The Santa Barbara Trolley of Lights Tour is one of the hottest tickets in town this time of year.
Former maintenance mechanic Chuck Drew should know, he has been driving the Santa Barbara Holiday Trolley for two decades.
"Time flies by, it really does, I didn't even think I'd be doing this for one year, it's something to look forward to every year, it really is," said Drew.
People who remember riding on his trolley over the years sometimes recognize him and call him "The Trolley Guy."
Riders might be surprised to learn he used to be shy.
"I was scared to death when I learned to do it, I thought I was going to have a heart attack."
His love of Christmas began at a young age when he made toys for the local arts and crafts show.
"I was 12 years old and I would make Wooden toys."
He also makes his own holiday playlist and listens the all kinds of Christmas songs throughout the year.
There are perks to being his son.
"I think it's pretty cool I get free rides and and stuff for Christmas lights," said his son Johann San Diego."
The teen still laughs at his dad's trolley jokes, even though he has heard them before.
"If there is an inflatable snowman not doing so well, so it is kind of leaning over I point that out as Frosty's cousin tipsy." said Drew.
But on a more serious note the longtime driver said there are rules of the road.
"You have to be a good driver, a little bit of an entertainer, and know some of the history."
And a good driver never discloses celebrities who have been on board.
Grinches often find themselves in a better mood after a trolley ride.
They often change their attitude while going around and around the Milpas St. roundabout.
"You've got to get it right on the roundabout every time, that is continuously, but not every time that you want to toss your cookies," said Drew.
Drew put up the trolley's holiday lights and credits his wife for decorating the rest of the vehicle.
Sometimes he gets tips.
"All drivers have a tip box, mine will be a sleigh this year."
His tip to riders and everyone on his route is to enjoy the season in this special place.
“People who come to visit Santa Barbara when it's during the holiday or anytime of year, they really do think it is an amazing place, some people living in Santa Barbara lose sight of how special it is. "
After 20 years Drew has no plans to calling it quits.
"It is all about having fun, making sure everyone has a good time."
Drew said the trolley has been booked for weeks but there is a waiting list.
Teddi Drew and her husband Reggie are proud to call the Santa Barbara Trolley Company a family owned and operated businesses. They treat all their drivers like family.
They want to call attention to another driver named Mario Marquez who started with the company 23 years ago before leaving to take a full time job elsewhere. Marquez returns to keep the tradition alive during the holidays. They credit Marquez with finding the most festive decorations by searching the neighborhoods over the year. He led what they call the "train of trolley" for more than a decade.
They have other drivers who return for the season to take part in "Trolliday Cheer."
Their children have taken part over the years by serving as "trolley elves."
The trolley elves have out treats to families and children who come outside to greet the trolleys each night.
Some people book trolley rides months in advance.
To learn more about the Trolley Team visit https:sbtrolley.com